Terminal 1 or Wapato: Better Than Dying on PDX Streets

Day Campers on North Park Blocks ~ Aug 2015
Day Campers on North Park Blocks ~ Aug 2015

The sad truth is that the down trodden sleep on our streets with no treatment or protection and people are increasing dying. Our current policies are not working. We need more shelter beds and a consistent street policy to eradicate unregulated, unsanitary and unsafe street camping. Terminal One or Wapato – are real impactful solutions – big enough to make a measurable impact, giving people a roof and safe haven for sleep and nourishment. The argument that a large shelter concept would be warehousing homeless is the least of our worries when people are dying on our streets. ~ Michelle Cardinal

From: 88 Homeless People Died on Portland-Area Streets Last Year by Rachel Monahan, Willamette Week, Sept 9, 2016

The number of homeless people who died in Multnomah County rose sharply in 2015—to 88, up from 56 the year before.

That’s the highest number of deaths since the county and the Street Roots newspaper began compiling the data in 2011 for a report entitled “Domicile Unknown.”

It’s may be a first, official indication that the number of homeless Portlanders has risen sharply since the last count in January 2015.

The lack of affordable housing is a contributing factor, says Street Roots executive director Israel Bayer.

“We’re not getting people into housing at a quick enough pace to save the lives of people who are elderly and vulnerable,” says Bayer. “There are more people on the streets because we’re not moving people inside.”

Using the same method since 2011, the county has tallied the number of deaths investigated by the medical examiners’ office.

In all, 17 homeless women died in 2015, up from four in 2014. The number of African-Americans rose to 10 from seven. The number of homicides rose from one to five. Women died at an average age of 41; men at an average age of 50.

Drugs or alcohol contributed to 44 deaths in 2015, up from 31 in 2014. Deaths related to heroin or other opiates remained relatively flat: 19 in 2014, 22 in 2015.

As in years’ past, roughly an equal number of homeless died from April through September and October through March.

Here’s a link to the report.

Wapato Beats Shanty Towns

Unused bunks at Wapato [Thomas Boyd/The Oregonian]
Unused bunks at Wapato [Thomas Boyd/The Oregonian]
This winter is has been cold, wet and cruel for those forced to live on the streets.

One of Portland’s responses has been to authorize the creation of ad-hoc shanty towns. Unregulated homeless camps are growing all over Portland – most recently at North Greeley called Hazelnut Grove.

City Commissioner Amanda Fritz recently told KGW  Every neighborhood in Portland will be asked to find a spot to put a homeless camp.” Is that leadership, for is Fritz sweeping the homeless problem “under the rug” in neighborhoods all over the city?


We think that opening the Wapato facility as a homeless shelter is a much better idea. Join us by signing a petition to open Wapato as part of a comprehensive plan to address the needs of Portland’s homeless. The county spent millions building Wapato and it continues to waste tax dollars maintaining the facility as it sits empty.

Wapato can be a low/no barrier shelter, a place of safety, a place to get cleaned up, and provided proper meals and nutrition. With co-located services, Wapato can also be a place to get signed up for benefits and prepares those residents for short/long term housing.

A recent Street Roots editorial agrees, stating that opening Wapato, “… gives everyone meals, showers, lockers for storage, laundry and a place to sleep….  moving the programs from the other locations into the one place [Wapato], …  saves tax dollars.”

Meeting with Mayor Hales – Aug 18, 2015

Crime and Safety report image

Michelle Cardinal the CEO and Co-Founder of R2C Group (and North Park Blocks neighbor) met with Mayor yesterday to bring his attention to our criminal vagrant problem.  She presented this slide deck at the meeting.

Here are Michelle’s  notes from the meeting:

The meeting with the Mayor went well today – thank you for your support and input in our meeting yesterday. Tom Manley from PNCA and Bob Packard from ZGF were also in attendance (who I encourage to please weigh in on my notes or make additions).

The Mayor brought a large group, I didn’t get cards for all of them, but most notable were: Commander Westport – Portland Police, Josh Alpren – Chief of Staff, Patty Howard – Parks (works for Amanda Fritz, there were also representatives from Clean and Safe and Portland Business Alliance and Eloise Damroch – Executive Director of Regional Arts and Culture Council.

We presented PowerPoint deck (download it here: Crime Safety North Park Blocks 2.1MB pdf )and also a short film my employees made – showing exactly how life on park blocks has gotten unbearable. Film included real life testimonials of harassment, drug dealing, vagrancy etc…and overall lack of livability here (your photos were very helpful, thank you!). The video along with hard photos we left behind really made our point – loud and clear – they all seemed a bit speechless. A picture truly is worth a thousand words…

We clearly and concisely laid out our concerns;

We are now experiencing an unprecedented influx of crime led by gangs of drug dealers as well as abnormally large numbers of mentally ill and drug

Addled vagrants threatening our safety. This is not an indictment of the homeless community, instead an attempt to shine a light on a growing and vibrant criminal element who are smart and organized – taking advantage of the truly indigent and needy.

Big picture – Mayor appears to understand big backlash from constituents coming his way on this issue… Attempting to get ahead of it. Was open and willing to dialogue.

Here’s where we netted out: Some short term wins, to disrupt criminal activity in Park and a seat at the table to dialogue with Mayor on this issue.


  1. Mayor encouraged creation of our Park Blocks Consortium – (I hope you like the name, I made it up to avoid confusion with PBAlliance) and wants to work with us through creation and expansion of Business Improvement Districts (BID) as Jacob suggested last night.
  2. Tom Manley (PNCA) – successfully floated idea of “Programming the Park” – whereby events are scheduled in the park (music, art, festivals) – to discourage vagrancy/criminal activity and encourage resident and tourist use. This would be partially funded by our Business Improvement District as well as other funding from PNCA. Mayor used “Holiday Park case study as excellent example” – and highly supports this.
  3. Three Week “Park Shut down ” – Mayor and Patty Howard (Parks) – Agreed to “shut park down” for three weeks in preparation for Labor Day Art in the Pearl – for reseeding and repairs of irrigation system. This will require complete clearance and fencing around the park.
  4. Three Week – Temporary “High Pedestrian Zone”on our sidewalks (directly across from Park) – which means no camping of sleeping of any kind.
  5. When Park reopens – Irrigation will turn on at 9AM and 12AM – daily.
  6. More Police will be assigned directly to North Park Blocks – Commander Westport – also gave me information regarding the hiring of “ off duty police” service – (which Jacob referred to last night a tool SW Park Blocks are also using). We would do this through our new BID (and our new Park Blocks Consortium).
    Next meeting – Mayor would like to have a follow-up meeting in two weeks – to follow up on above game plan and include additional people from our group.

Non Starters:

  1. Our request for a “ Drug Impact Area/Exclusion Zone” was shot down – with explanation that District Attorney is no longer prosecuting those cases (due to high failure rate). Failure rate is related to ACLU Claims that these laws unfairly target minorities. (Exclusion Zones were dropped by Potter in 2007 – due to ACLU lobbying – same issue).
  2. Open Town hall/Forum – was also shot down . Mayor wants to have solutions and plan before opening dialogue citywide.


We floated idea of the brand new, unused “Wapato Jail Facility” – to be used for homeless facility . This could be done fairly quickly and provide lots of quality space. This was met with lukewarm enthusiasm – because it is owned by County and too far from city services. Others in the know – think this is great idea. So we should continue to push this.

Concern :

New Methadone clinic is opening in ChinaTown/Oldtown? Not sure of location. Will impact our area.